Leading Teams with Care - Lesson 10

Five Essential Factors: Process

Learn the importance of team process, focusing on decision-making. It highlights the necessity for every team member to understand how decisions are made and carried out. You explore decision quality, emphasizing understanding the problem, examining alternatives, and predicting results. Decision acceptance is discussed through methods like consensus, negotiation, voting, and unilateral decisions, using real-world examples to illustrate effective team decision-making strategies.

Rick Sessoms
Leading Teams with Care
Lesson 10
Watching Now
Five Essential Factors: Process

Lesson: Christ-Centered Leadership

I. Leading Teams with Care

A. The Importance of Caring for Your Team

B. The Example of Jesus

II. The Qualities of a Caring Leader

A. Humility

B. Compassion

C. Availability

D. Listening

III. Leading with Care in Practice

A. Creating a Safe Environment

B. Building Relationships

C. Providing Support

D. Offering Encouragement and Recognition

IV. Conclusion

A. Recap of the Key Points

B. Call to Action

  • Learn to lead Christ-centered teams by understanding unity and diversity in team roles, drawing from the Trinity, and fostering growth and love, with insights from Genesis and Ephesians, while reflecting on and assessing team effectiveness.
  • Learn about the importance of caring for your team, trusting God with your team's vision, people, and resources, and cultivating Christ-Centered teams.
  • Explore the complexities of team dynamics, discussing the combination of diverse skills to achieve common goals, the challenges of being assigned to teams, the distinction between leadership and leaders, the concept of shared leadership, and the importance of relationships within teams.
  • Learn that a team is a small, skill-diverse group committed to common goals and mutual accountability. Teams require clear roles and contributions, aren't always the best solution, and are intentionally planned and maintained, unlike naturally forming groups.
  • This lesson emphasizes the need for a clear, common, and compelling purpose in a team, ensuring that every member understands, owns, and is motivated by this purpose to achieve effective teamwork.
  • Learn how to care for team members and create a culture of caring as a Christ-centered leader, and discover the benefits of doing so, including increased team member engagement and productivity, higher job satisfaction, and improved communication and collaboration.
  • Learn about team roles using the Team Dimensions Profile tool, focusing on the Creator, Advancer, Refiner, Executor, and Flexor roles, their characteristics, strengths, and weaknesses, and the importance of balancing these roles for effective teamwork.
  • By completing this lesson on Christ-Centered Leadership, you will gain insight into team building, leading with care, creating a culture of care, and balancing results and care.
  • Learn how to lead your team with care by understanding the importance of caring for your team members, effective communication, and setting clear expectations.
  • In this lesson, you will learn how to lead with care by understanding the importance of caring for your team, the qualities of a caring leader, and practical strategies for creating a safe environment, building relationships, providing support, and offering encouragement and recognition.
  • In this lesson on Christ-Centered Leadership, you will learn the importance of leading teams with care, how to practice it practically, the role of emotions in leadership, and effective communication methods.
  • Learn how to lead and develop a caring team, overcome obstacles to team sustainability, and gain insights into the characteristics of a leader who cares and a caring team.
  • This lesson on Christ-Centered Leadership will teach you how to lead teams with care, lead through change, and lead with humility.
  • Learn how to be a Christ-centered leader who cares for your team by understanding the biblical foundations, creating a culture of care, leading through change, and sustaining care for yourself and your team.
  • This lesson on Christ-Centered Leadership provides knowledge and insight into creating a safe and secure environment, promoting individual growth and development, building a cohesive team, developing a culture of care, and practical tips for leading teams with care.

Teamwork is the will of God for the people of God.

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Dr. Rick Sessoms
Leading Teams with Care
Five Essential Factors Process
Lesson Transcript 


Tonight, I thought that we would move into the next piece, and we're going to come back to this team dimensions in just a few moments, but let's just jump forward into the third factor for an essential team, and that is team process. In the area of team process, how we define that is that every member knows how the team makes decisions. That’s important, knows how the team makes decisions. I've been on teams. Maybe you've been on teams, had no idea how the team made decisions. There may have been a formal, stated way that the team makes decisions, but a very much more powerful, much more strategic, informal way, and that can get confusing. Not only does every member know how the team makes decisions, but also the process by which decisions will be carried out and his or her specific task as the team pursues its purpose. That's what process is about. 

Now, when we talk about, as I mentioned, how teams make decisions, I was working with a group -- I won't mention which country it was, but it was in Asia -- and they were going through a major transition, and they had developed a brand new team. The old structure kind of fizzled, and so they decided they were going to put together a brand new team; it was a major ministry, and I was there to help and to consult with them. You know how when you get on a new team, everybody has euphoria. It's exciting. There's a lot of hope and inspiration, and this is going to be great kind of stuff. And so, they sat in the first meeting and said, now this is how we're going to make decisions. Fine. Within two weeks, however, because of the old culture, the old way of doing things, decisions started to be made in a very different way, the real decisions, and so there was a lot of a lot of ill will around the table simply because the way that it was stated that decisions would be made was very different than the way decisions were actually made. So, in that context, the real decisions were made before the people ever came around the table, and so some people felt very left out. So, it's very important as a team to know how the team makes decisions, and every person needs to know that clearly and how those decisions will be carried out. 

Speaking of decisions, what I want to do is to go into a discussion of what is a good decision? The anatomy of a good decision. And there are a couple of different components of a good decision. The two components very simply are, first, decision quality. What is the quality? How robust is it? Have we thought about the decision long enough and hard enough, and have we put the process in place so that the decision is actually a quality decision? But there's another factor to a good decision, and that’s decision acceptance, and if you don't have both of those things, it's not a very good decision, and we're going to unpack that a bit more, but this is a very important piece of building team cohesion and how this world works together.

So, let's talk about decision quality. There are several key components there, several key steps, I should say, to building good decision quality. The first is we really have to understand the problem. I have found on teams that I'm part of that oftentimes, understanding the real problem is about 60% of the battle. Have you ever experienced that? Sometimes we flounder around, almost starting to come up with the answers, and we really don't know what the question is yet, and so it's really critical to focus and to understand what the problem is, and every person on the team needs to understand what that problem is. 

Secondly, after we clearly understand and have articulated the problem, we need to examine the alternatives. That's plural, alternatives. There needs to be an opportunity to explore various ways of solving that problem or addressing that question, several solutions. So that's about examining the alternatives, and then finally, predicting the results. What will happen if we follow this alternative? What will happen if we follow that alternative? When we have successfully as a team accomplished answering clearly those three questions, then we generally have a pretty good decision in hand. Does that make sense? So that's a simple formula, but it tends to be very effective if we pay attention diligently to those three steps in decision quality. Questions about that? Is that clear? 

STUDENT: Yeah, the challenge is in the details in terms of, for example, understanding the problem; how do you think that's best accomplished, because it's so easy to grasp what seems to be the simple understanding of the problem.

So how is the best way to accomplish that, to understand the problem? Suggestions? On teams that you've been part of, how is the best way to understand the problem? Okay, listening. 

STUDENT: Trying to seek out the perspective of those that are not as dominant in the conversation or dominant in the process, and not depending upon those that are the loudest to be the most right; I don't mean to say loud, like misbehavior, but it’s easier on some teams for some people –

-- the most dominant personalities, perhaps.

STUDENT: A neutral person who's not involved with it. 

Mm hmm. That's right, somebody that maybe looks at it from the outside or is having a fresh view of things. 

STUDENT: Dig into the underlying drivers that are kind of driving the problem, the hidden things that were often overlooked, seek those out.

STUDENT: Understand the charge.

To understand the charge. What do you mean by that, Jim? 

STUDENT: What the group’s charged to do. Part of that charge might be the process is going to be democratic, is going to be ultimately decided by what person. Part of the charge might be we got to get from point A to point B. Part of the charge is you can't consider this or consider that, so part of understanding the problem is understanding the charges to this group. 


STUDENT: It's just looking at outside factors, too, whether this problem is something that has been created because of -- is there a specific reason for it, or really are we confusing other situations that might be contributing to whatever we're calling the problem? 

STUDENT: I think logistically in a group, if you're leading the group, you have each person say what they think is the problem. I mean, like if you're trying to come to consensus, you try to just make sure each person has said the problem and then kind of hash out, let's get together, let's find out what it is, what we have. I've seen so many different groups that try to create -- from previous churches where there’s --

Not this one; the previous one [laughter]

STUDENT: Not this one -- where all of the committee -- like even hiring a new person, and, you know, they're all looking for these very different qualities that are not meeting the actual needs of what's needed now. It's something from the past ____[09:01], you know, just that basic what do we need -- what is –really working on that part first –

STUDENT: -- and what do we need, rather than what I – 

STUDENT: I find it so often helpful when you're facing a problem to consult with the opposition.

Consult with the opposition. Interesting. 

STUDENT: Instead of insult the opposition. [laughter] 

STUDENT: You know, oftentimes problems have, and sometimes problems start to view the opposition as a piece of the problem. Oftentimes, rather than pulling away from that opposing faction, it's best to move towards that opposing faction in a setting that the tension can be relieved, like over coffee or something like that, and then just really pick the brain of some of the leaders of the opposition so you can understand the problem from a different perspective. 

Yeah, that's excellent. Are you familiar with the concept ‘groupthink?’ Groupthink, of course, is when a group gets together and, for whatever reason, whether it's purposes of peace or if it's because they've been inside of a culture for so long and they're so familiar with it that they all tend to think the same way; they tend to think along the same patterns. It's almost like they're following the same road, even subconsciously, and this can often happen to groups, to teams that have been together for quite some time; they can develop a groupthink. This particularly happens in churches because we sort of have an aversion to disagreeing, at least out loud. Now internally, of course, we disagree all the time, but out loud we have a problem with that. 

Some time ago I wrote a blog entry on our website about the value of a court jester, and it kind of goes along with this idea. The court jester, of course, in the time of the knights of the roundtable was there basically for the survival and the welfare of the king, but his role was to sort of poke fun and use humor to bring out those things that the people inside the circle tended not to see, and so the value of a court jester in understanding the problem is often very, very helpful for a team, and it goes back to what Jan was saying, perhaps somebody even from the outside that maybe has a different perspective on things can help a team a great deal in really getting a bead on what that problem is. 

Let me just say that it takes hard work to understand the problem. It's almost always hard work to really clearly not only understand it, but to articulate it and to make sure that everybody on the team truly understands it. I've found that that may be the hardest of all of coming up with a good decision quality. Once we understand the problem, the other things tend to flow out of that. But understanding the problem, if we don't get that base set, we can end up, you know, in a place that we never intended to be or that isn't really helpful. Other thoughts, comments about decision quality? 

STUDENT: Well, with understanding the problem, trying to say the proper scope for the solution or for the problem that you're trying to address because sometimes there's a bigger problem, but your team can, because of their, you know, position in the church or whatever, can only address this part. 

So you're saying part of the understanding is to understand the scope, the limitations of the scope of the problem. 

STUDENT: Yeah, the scope that your team is able to address. In some ways it’s often you get, you know, making a decision, going in a direction, but you get frustrated trying to implement what you decide on because you really can’t impact the entire situation. 

Excellent. Very good. So, that's about decision quality. The second part of a good decision is about decision acceptance. Now, there are several ways that decisions are accepted, and none of these ways is necessarily the way, but there are several ways. One is by consensus. I know of one group that always wanted to make every decision by consensus, and they ended up stalled because it simply found times when consensus simply was not the most expedient or it didn't work, and so the team bogged down. But consensus is a way, and consensus certainly is one of those preferred ways; if we can reach consensus, it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. 

But there's other ways. There's negotiation where it's win-win. We all get something. Probably none of us gets everything, but we all get something, so that's a way of going about making decisions. And then there's voting. Voting may be one of the least popular; despite our democratic system here in the United States; voting often creates winners and losers, and so, you know, as best we can, it's probably appropriate in a team context to avoid voting, but sometimes that may be the only way through, and there are rare times in which that's an appropriate approach. 

And then finally, a unilateral approach. Sometimes if a team is in a crisis, if you're on a battlefield, if a team is on a battlefield and they're getting shot at, bullets are flying, that's not a time to seek consensus; it’s time for the commander to tell everybody to get their heads down. Rare, though it be, there's a time and a place on a team for unilateral decisions. So we're not suggesting that there is one way to make decisions on a team; there are numerous ways, and we have to identify the conditions upon which the most appropriate way fits.

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